Illegal Camping Cause of Garage Fire, Displaces Two Families

Justin de Ruyter, Spokane Fire,

Tuesday, March 12, 2024 at 10:09 a.m.

On Monday, March 11, 2024, at 8:55 a.m., the Spokane Fire Department received a call about a house fire on the 00 block of East Rockwell Avenue. Several neighbors reported seeing flames and heavy smoke coming from the attached garage of a duplex. Quint 13 arrived within four minutes and confirmed it was a working fire. They immediately began searching the living spaces of the duplex while crews from Engine 2 and ARU 15 deployed hoselines to extinguish the fire and protect the search teams.

Inside the duplex, firefighters discovered a fire in the garage that was spreading to the living quarters. They also found moderate smoke and fire penetrating through a wall opening, making the interior smoky and with building heat conditions. Fortunately, they could knock down the fire within ten minutes without any injuries to firefighters or members of the public. The fire's damage is estimated at $100,000, but firefighters were able to save property valued at approximately $350,000.

A fire investigator from the Special Investigations Unit determined that the fire was caused by a candle used by transients illegally occupying the garage. Both the occupants and neighbors reported experiencing issues with this over the past few weeks, including finding doors left open and candles on the garage floor.

Currently, investigators do not have any suspects, and there are no descriptions available of the transients involved. Fortunately, the fire happened during the morning when there was a lot of activity, leading to a quick response from firefighters. The Red Cross was called to assist, providing temporary accommodations for two adults and eight children from the unit affected by the fire and for two adults and three children from the unit with smoke damage.